Ohio now taking applications for businesses wanting to sell medical pot

Written on Apr 27, 2017

Prospective medical marijuana growers finally know Ohio’s rules for obtaining growers' licenses.

Ohio's medical marijuana law allows people with 21 medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy, to purchase and use marijuana after getting a doctor's recommendation. The law doesn't allow smoking.

Regulators say the rules balance access with public safety and can be revisited later.

Ohio has set some of the highest licensing fees in the country. Larger growers must pay a $20,000 application fee and a $180,000 license fee. Smaller grow operations must pay $2,000 to apply and an $18,000 license fee. Annual renewal fees are equally high as well.

Up to 24 licenses - 12 for large growers, 12 for small growers - will be made available, with some growers and patient advocates raising concerns that the total 336,000 square feet available won't be enough to produce an adequate crop. Estimates of the Ohio patient population vary widely, from 185,000 to 325,000 people.

Potential growers must find banks and insurers willing to service their businesses, an issue that has been a challenge in other states, as national companies have steered clear of dealing with a business product that the federal government still considers illegal.

Ohio's medical marijuana law requires mandatory marijuana testing to be done by an in-state, public university. The problem is not one has said for sure yet if it will participate. Public universities risk losing their federal drug-testing certifications if they delve into a substance - marijuana - that is deemed illegal under federal law.

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